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Five of the best London outdoor swimming pools

August 2011

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Caroline Gosney dons her swimsuit and heads outdoors to discover the capital’s best open-air swimming locations
Tooting Bec Lido
Raf Makda/

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Serpentine Lido, Hyde Park
Get yourself over to Hyde Park between May and September and take a dip in the Serpentine.  Not for those who don't like animals as swans and ducks have been known to ignore the lane divisions. The water isn't chlorinated which is nice but it's also not heated so don't be surprised if you get toe deep and decide to retreat to the Lido Café and watch the world go by.

Parliament Hill Lido, Parliament Hill fields
You'll need a strong constitution for the Parliament Hill Lido, like the Serpentine it's unheated. However, you can ask for a wetsuit, which will be given at the lifeguard's discretion (who knows what the criteria are, maybe they rate you on a colour scheme — the more blue you are the more likely you'll get one). Built in the 1930s, it was refurbished in 2005 and is a spacious 60mx28m.

London Fields Lido, London Fields
An 18-year battle stopped this pool from being demolished and after a lick of paint it was reopened in 2006. The company running it (Greenwich Leisure LTD) decided to heat it which the early morning, pre-work customers probably appreciate. It's rammed at weekends and all through the summer month's but closed at lunch times so the day splits into two sessions allowing the maximum number of people the opportunity to use it.

Tooting Bec Lido, Tooting Bec
The largest freshwater open-air pool in England, at a whopping 90m, the Tooting Bec lido is iconic thanks to its Panetone-coloured changing huts. It has been at the heart of the community since it opened in 1906 and is open year round. However, if you want to swim during the winter months you must be a member of the South London Swimming Club. Though why you'd want to jump into freezing cold water when it's minus 1 outside is anyone's guess.

Hampton Open Air Pool, Hampton
A little outside central London but worth a visit, Hampton Open Air Pool is open 365 days a year. Built in 1922 it's run by the Poolside Swim and BBQ club who stopped it from being closed in 1985. They help to fundraise and volunteer too for gardening and other maintenance. No need to worry about getting cold, it's kept at a balmy 28C all year round.

Posted by Caroline Gosney


London, UK, Adevnture-blog

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